from Mercer County Common Pleas Court Trial Court No.
Matthew K. Fox and Joshua A. Muhlenkamp for Appellant.
A. Tesno for Appellee.
Appellant, the State of Ohio ("the State"), appeals
the judgment of the Mercer County Common Pleas Court that
granted Appellee, Jerrod W. Muhlenkamp's
("Muhlenkamp"), motion to suppress. For the reasons
that follow, we reverse the judgment of the trial court.
and Procedural History
The facts relevant to this appeal involve the search of
Muhlenkamp's residence. Muhlenkamp had been under
probation supervision of the Mercer County Adult Probation
Department since 2010. His probation officer was Dane Gross
("Gross"). As a part of his supervision, the trial
court set out community control sanctions, which Muhlenkamp
signed and agreed to on December 30, 2013. (Ex. 1).
Muhlenkamp's community control sanctions required him
"to submit to searches, without a warrant, of his
person, vehicle, or place of residence by a probation
officer". Id. The community control sanctions
also included the requirement for Muhlenkamp to submit to
random drug screens. Id.
Pursuant to the terms of his probation, Muhlenkamp submitted
to an eye scan, a preliminary test for illicit drug usage, at
the Mercer County Sheriffs Office on July 5, 2016. Muhlenkamp
failed the scan and was directed, by Gross, to submit to a
urine sample for drugs. Muhlenkamp refused to take the test
which resulted in the determination that he failed the urine
test and was in violation of his community control sanctions.
Further, on that same date, Gross received information (from
another probation officer) that Muhlenkamp was actively using
methamphetamines and was potentially manufacturing
methamphetamines at his residence. Lastly, and again on that
date, Gross received a phone call from Sgt. Link, of the
Mercer County Sheriffs Department, expressing concern of
Muhlenkamp's recent paranoid behavior and suspected drug
With this information, Gross planned to arrest Muhlenkamp at
his residence and search it for drugs and for evidence of a
"meth lab". To accomplish his search for a
"meth lab", Gross sought the assistance of the
Grand Lake Task Force, for safety measures, due to the
potential that "dangerous chemicals" may be
involved. (Tr. 12-13).
On July 7, 2016, Gross, along with members of the Grand Lake
Task Force, arrived at Muhlenkamp's residence. At the
direction of Gross, the Task Force officers commenced a
search of the outbuildings while he (Gross) knocked on the
front door of the residence in order to find Muhlenkamp. When
no one answered the door of the residence, Gross joined the
Task Force officers in the search of the outbuildings.
Ultimately, the search of the outbuildings yielded no
evidence of a "meth lab", so the group concluded
its search and decided to leave the residence. However, when
leaving the premises, Gross observed Muhlenkamp seated on the
back patio of the residence. Gross, accompanied by the Task
Force officers, approached Muhlenkamp on the patio. When
speaking to Gross and the officers, Muhlenkamp became
agitated and began yelling at the Task Force Officers. (Tr.
19). Gross suspected that Muhlenkamp was under the influence
of "meth" and asked Muhlenkamp to submit to a drug
screen. Muhlenkamp agreed but told Gross that he would test
"dirty". (Tr. 19). Gross then made the decision to
arrest Muhlenkamp for violating his probation. However, since
Muhlenkamp was a double leg amputee and was not wearing his
prosthetic legs at the time, Gross assisted him into the
residence to retrieve his prosthetics prior to formally
arresting him. Once inside the residence, Muhlenkamp advised
Gross that he had a digital scale in his bedroom closet,
which Gross found. (Tr. 20).
Gross then arrested Muhlenkamp. After arresting and securing
Muhlenkamp into the custody of another law enforcement
officer for transportation to the county jail, Gross and Sgt.
Crum, a member of the Grand Lake Task Force, remained in
Muhlenkamp's residence. It was Gross's decision to
remain in the residence to search Muhlenkamp's bedroom
after Muhlenkamp was arrested and removed. Thereafter, and at
Gross's direction, Sgt. Crum searched Muhlenkamp's
dresser wherein he found "rolling" papers and some
plastic baggies stuffed into a Marlboro cigarette pack. (Tr.
42). When he opened the baggies, Sgt. Crum recognized its
contents to be crystal methamphetamine. (Tr. 42). At that
time, the search concluded so the Task Force could secure a
warrant to proceed further.
On July 22, 2016, Muhlenkamp was indicted on one count of
Aggravated Possession of Drugs, in violation of ORC
2925.11(A), 2925.11(C)(1)(a), a felony of the fifth degree.
(Doc. 5). On July 27, 2016, Muhlenkamp entered a plea of not
guilty. (Doc. 16). On March 14, 2017, Muhlenkamp filed a
Motion to Suppress the evidence found in his home claiming
the search of his residence was "beyond the scope of
what would be referred to as a 'probationers search'
". (Doc. 68). On April 12, 2017 the trial court granted
Muhlenkamp's Motion to Suppress. (Doc. 79). It is from
this decision that the State appeals raising the following
assignment of error.
TRIAL COURT ERRED WHEN IT SUPPRESSED EVIDENCE FOUND IN THE
DEFENDANT'S RESIDENCE DURING A SEARCH CONDUCTED BY THE
DEFENDANT'S PROBATIONS [SIC] OFFICER AND LAW ENFORCEMENT
OFFICERS WHO WERE ...